There was a time in my life when I would wake up already feeling anxious. The second my eyes popped open, my brain would start whirling and I would feel a tightness in my chest and my blood pressure would rise.
Bam, right from the start of the day, I’d have anxiety. Which frankly, is a really shitty way to start your day.
I would start thinking about all the things I had to do that day and would already feel like I didn’t have enough time in my day to do all those things. I felt pressure right from the start to hurry and get ready, the list of to-do’s running through my head.
What meetings did I have that day? What was on my kids’ schedules for the day? Did I have everything ready for the day that I needed (like my lunch)? The mental list went on and on.
It was exhausting.
I was afraid I was going to forget something, so I’d run over this list in my head, mentally strategizing what task should come first, what should come next: “Heather, once you do X, then make sure you do Y. And don’t forget that after work today, you have to do Z.”
Does this sound like you? Are you “off and running” right when you wake up, already overly stressed and anxious?
On top of today’s worries causing the anxiety, you may also be rehashing everything from the day before that didn’t go the way you wanted it to. Maybe something happened at work that you’re unhappy about, which is then causing you to wake up with anxiety because now you are also trying to think about how to deal with yesterday’s problem today.
So, you’re worried about yesterday’s stuff today, and today’s stuff today, which is a whole ‘lotta stuff to worry about for one day. And is a huge source of morning anxiety.
If you happen to have a “big day,” like a job interview, or a test, or something else out of the ordinary, it wouldn’t be that unusual to wake up with anxiety.
But what if you’re like I was, waking up with anxiety pretty much every day? If this is the case, you have generalized anxiety disorder, meaning you have anxiety as a constant fixture in your life.
Because you actually have all-day anxiety, not just anxiety due to an upcoming “out of the ordinary” day, you’re waking up with anxiety because that is your perpetual state. You aren’t really ever getting a break from the anxiety, so waking up with anxiety is an extension of the anxiety that is chronic in your life.
But what if you could start your day off better, reducing your morning anxiety, and thus all your anxiety, right from the start?
One thing I recommend is NOT looking at your phone right when you wake up. For me, I would turn off my alarm on my phone and then would think “Hey, I’ll check my email” or “Let me look at today’s work calendar.”
Bad ideas on my part. Seeing emails and meetings on my calendar would instantly send my anxiety higher, because I was visually looking at all the to-do’s.
One thing I do recommend doing is making your morning as easy as possible. Like a middle schooler, pick out your outfit the night before.
Do you take your lunch to work or make your kid’s lunches? Don’t make them in the morning; make them the night before.
You really want to slow down as much as possible in the morning. Feeling rushed is going to make your day start off poorly. Take the time to think ahead, on a regular basis, about what you can do to make everything go as smoothly as possible in the morning.
And here is a big bonus idea to squash waking up with anxiety. The second you sit up and turn off the alarm, put your feet on the floor and feel them making contact. Take five deep, slow breaths.
Really focus on your inhalations and exhalations. This will get you into the right frame of mind and will ease your body’s stress response.
And that will make everything easier as you get ready for your day to come.